Common Sense & Going With Your Gut

Common sense is something I feel is mostly lacking in today’s world. Somehow we have lost our ability to use common sense. Yet it is such an invaluable tool in managing your health.

If something hurts you, examine what you did or ate that makes you feel the way you do. Examine your habits, your behavior and your lifestyle. Does your life cause you to stress? Does eating a particular food or too much of a particular food make you sick?

I know for myself, common sense has come in very handy. I pay attention to my body and analyze possible causes of what could cause me to feel the way I do today. If I feel great then I say what did I do? What did I eat? And it is through this analysis that I have been able to alter certain things in my lifestyle that make me feel better. I have discovered what foods cause me distress. I have learned what causes me stress and how to quickly deal with it.

Thinking about it, I often wonder why many of us have turned into a nation of pill poppers and complainers. At the slightest feeling of a pain, pills are grabbed. If something goes wrong we complain. Do we notice if we have done something that has caused the pain so we don’t do it again? Perhaps that headache was caused by too much drinking the night before. Maybe we tripped and now a knee hurts. Do we actually use common sense in saying to ourselves that we shouldn’t overdo or we need to be more careful? Do we place blame on others for the way we feel or do we accept responsibility for our actions?

Do we eat a big plate of greasy food and later complain we don’t feel well? Or do we look at that plate of food and say no thanks it doesn’t agree with me?

I believe if we used common sense we could make our lives better. We would be more in tune with our bodies. We would be more sensitive with regards to how others in our lives feel, from our family, neighbors and even our pets. We could ask questions and find answers before things got worse. And we wouldn’t always jump to pop a pill at the first sign of pain.

Going With Your Gut

Combining common sense with going with your gut makes a pretty good way to navigate through life and any health crisis. I have always trusted my gut feelings. Sometimes I didn’t follow them enough though. In retrospect I wish I did.

When I was misdiagnosed twice (before they finally found my Cancer) and told there was nothing wrong with me, I knew in my gut something was wrong. Thank God I was persistent (and so were my friends) because I would have died. I had a huge tumor in my colon. I had virtually no symptoms — I thought I had a cold.  I KNEW something was not right. One Urgent Care facility said I had bronchitis and gave me antibiotics and a pill to ease nasal congestion.  But it didn’t go away. So I tried another Urgent Care facility. At this one they literally laughed at me. They flat out said there was nothing wrong with me. But deep inside I knew they were wrong. My gut said so. Three months later I finally found a Gastroenterologist that persisted to find the root cause, and found the tumor(s).  I should have listened more closely to my body and gone sooner. It would have made a big difference.

Another time when I went with my gut feelings was when I was to have Chemotherapy. The Oncologist insisted I needed Oxaliplatin combined with 5FU and Leucovorin. I read about Oxaliplatin and the horrible, possibly permanent neuropathy side effects. Numbness and tingling in your hands and feet. Being an artist and writer I knew if I had the drug, I had about an 80% chance of not being able to use my hands and fingers comfortably to do my passions. If I could not express myself as I wanted — if I were to live with permanent discomfort, I decided I would rather die.

I now come to find that Oxaliplatin was not really necessary anyway… So you see when you rely on your body to tell you what to do — if you are extremely uncomfortable about taking a drug or having a treatment, speak up and do what you think is right for you. Research your options. Ask questions. Talk to your physicians. Learn to be aware of your body and do what feels right for you.

My last experience was when I was in Michigan taking care of my 95 year old Dad and had my three-year post Cancer CT scan. They saw a lesion on my liver and wanted a better look. So they next gave me an MRI. They told me they thought I had Stage IV metastasized Colon Cancer and needed a liver biopsy. But I felt great. My blood tests were perfect. I made the appointment anyway but backed off and cancelled a couple days before. My colon specialist called a couple weeks later and urged me to go, saying he couldn’t force me to go or have the police come take me for the biopsy. He ADAMANTLY INSISTED I needed that biopsy!

Yet my gut said no. I researched what a liver biopsy entailed. It doesn’t always give you accurate results. It can be dangerous and spread Cancer cells if not done right. And was it really necessary? I called my surgeon in Florida and talked to her. I expressed my concerns. She suggested a PET Scan as an alternative.  I also started searching for Cancer centers in Connecticut as I knew I had a place to move to and was convinced I needed a better health system if I indeed have some metastases.

I found the Yale Smilow Cancer Center in CT which has high marks and is doing a lot of research in Immunology. I decided that is where I should go. I increased the all the natural remedies I was doing. I thought maybe they would help. I arranged for someone to take over with my Dad. I got copies of my records from Michigan and copies of all the scans and moved 3 months later. It took me over two months to get an appointment there and I had to have all my records sent to me from Florida first but it was worth the wait.

I had another CT and they said the liver lesion looked as though it had been undergoing treatment, although they knew I didn’t have any treatment for my liver. I questioned the past Michigan diagnosis and scan. They compared and said it looked the same, in that it looked like it had been undergoing treatment.

I believe my alternative treatments are working. No need for a biopsy. A PET Scan 6 months later confirmed that it was not something of concern at this point. I am going to be cautious and have another MRI in December 2016 months to make sure I am fine. My gut was right again.

Update: My December MRI says the lesion is stable and looks like it has been treated. IT IS WORKING!

So common sense and going with my gut worked again.  Because I am in tune with my body. I felt great. I still feel great. Bodily Awareness is so important. I really can’t emphasize it enough.

It's Your Body. Respect It. Listen to It.

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